Essay: Gatsby as a Tragic Rather Than Romantic Hero

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  • Gatsby as a Tragic Rather Than Romantic Hero
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In a story, a romantic hero is a literary archetype referring to a character that rejects established norms and conventions, has been rejected by society, and has him or herself as the center of his or her own existence. Jay Gatsby, a character from the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is not considered a romantic hero in the 1920s. Clearly Gatsby is not a romantic hero because he makes Daisy, the so called love of his life, the center of his existence rather than himself. Yes, while he is an outcast and does reject what is conceived to be normal in society, he doesn’t love himself as much as he loves Daisy, everything he does is for Daisy. While he is a tragic hero being that his flaws are the reason that he was killed, he is definitely not a romantic hero.

In the Novel, Jay Gatsby makes Daisy the center of his existence. He didn’t think about anything unless Daisy was able to fit into the situation somehow. Whenever he wasn’t with her, he was thinking about her, and whenever he was with her talked and looked and nobody but her, even if there were other people around them. In the book, the character that plays Gatsby’s friend and Daisy’s cousin, Nick Carraway, states that “He[Gatsby] hadn’t once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real. Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs.”(Fitzgerald). He doesn’t even realize how extreme he is because he doesn’t care to notice anything but her. He also can’t stand to be away from her. He literally spent three years illegally acquiring money and “bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay” (Fitzgerald).

The idea of romance in the 1920s is obviously different than it is now being that back then it was very appealing for a man to fully care for women because women were known to be helpless beings. But in modern times it is conceived as completely offensive to think of a woman in that way.

He also completely isolates himself from society, he has no real friends, he works illegally, and he doesn’t even show up to his own parties. He doesn’t care about being an outcast of society because he only cares about getting Daisy back. That is why he throws the parties in the first place. Gatsby feels like if he becomes well known enough throughout Long Island for his parties, then Daisy would show up to one of them. He doesn’t see the point in being at the party, or being anywhere for that matter, if Daisy isn’t there as well.

When they finally seen each other again after almost five years Nick states that “Their eyes met, and they starred together at each other, alone in space.” Finally, after all that time of watching the green light at the end of her dock across the bay, they has finally met again.

Most people look at Gatsby as more of a tragic hero rather than a romantic hero being that his flaws are the reason that he was killed. His love for Daisy was his biggest flaw because it blinded him from why Daisy was really with him and made him so naive. Nick wasn’t very close with Daisy, but he was in fact her cousin and he could tell that she wasn’t in love with him like he was with her. He even said in the book that he didn’t “think she ever loved him.”(Fitzgerald). She just used him to get back at Tom for cheating on her with Myrtle. Deep down he knew that but he didn’t want to let himself believe it. Gatsby’s stubborn optimism and his insistence that the past can be recreated destroys any hope for a salvageable future between him and Daisy. While standing outside the Gatsby mansion, looking across Manhasset Bay, Nick realized that Gatsby’s death, like his life, is just the product of his outlived dream.

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